American English

Definition of tone noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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    of voice
  1. 1[countable] the quality of someone's voice, especially expressing a particular emotion speaking in hushed/low/clipped/measured, etc. tones a conversational tone a tone of surprise Don't speak to me in that tone of voice (= in that unpleasant way). There's no need to take that tone with me—it's not my fault we're late.
  2. character/atmosphere
  3. 2[singular] the general character and attitude of something such as a piece of writing, or the atmosphere of an event The overall tone of the book is gently nostalgic. She set the tone for the meeting with a firm statement of company policy. Leave it to you to lower the tone of the conversation (= for example by telling a rude joke). The article was moderate in tone and presented both sides of the case. The newspaper said voters had been turned off by the negative tone of the campaign.
  4. of sound
  5. 3[countable] the quality of a sound, especially the sound of a musical instrument or one produced by electronic equipment the full rich tone of the trumpet the volume and tone controls on a car stereo
  6. color
  7. 4[countable] a shade of a color a carpet in warm tones of brown and orange
  8. of muscles/skin
  9. 5[uncountable] how strong and firm your muscles or skin are how to improve your muscle/skin tone
  10. on telephone
  11. 6[countable] a sound heard on a telephone line the dial tone Please speak after the tone (= for example as an instruction on an answering machine).
  12. in music
  13. 7(also whole step) [countable] one of the five longer intervals in a musical scale, for example the interval between C and D or between E and F♯ compare step
  14. phonetics
  15. 8[countable] the pitch (= how high or low a sound is) of a syllable in speaking a rising/falling tone
  16. 9a particular pitch pattern on a syllable in languages such as Chinese, that can be used to distinguish different meanings
  17. -toned
  18. 10(in adjectives) having the type of tone mentioned a bright-toned soprano olive-toned skin
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: tone